Park improvements to start this year


BRETZVILLE — Construction work that will add RV campsites, extend trails and install a new restroom/information building at the Dubois County Park will likely start later this summer or fall.

The project has been awarded a $250,000 Land and Water Conservation grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The grant requires a $250,000 match, which the Dubois County Park Board has already saved.

“We are excited because it's been a long time coming,” said Christine Prior, park board president. “The drawings have been submitted to the state and approved. We will probably be going out to bid starting next week.”

If all goes according to plan, the Dubois County Commissioners will open the bids at their June 21 meeting. “They will open them and take them under advisement,” Prior said, “and then [engineering firm] Hafer Associates will look through them to make sure that they are complying with the bid specs.”

The county officially owns the park; the park board oversees the land, she said.

The winning contractor will add 14 RV campsites south of the current RV camping site. A restroom building — which would also house an information center — will be added near the southwest corner of a gravel parking lot, close to the lake and Our Precious Angels Monument area. The site will also have vending machines, outdoor seating and information about the park’s features and rules.

An existing trail that runs from the southeast side of the parking lot will be improved and connected to a new trail that will run to the new RV campsite. The new trail will also connect to some existing trails that run through parts of the park and to the existing RV campsites. Those parts of the existing trails will be improved to be wheelchair-accessible.

Work will definitely start after the Dubois County 4-H Fair is done, Prior said. And later in the fall, some trees will be selected to be removed for the RV camping spaces.

“We don't want to remove a lot,” she said. “But if we're putting in RV campsites, some trees will need to be removed.”

All the work is part of the county park’s master plan that was created in 2018. The multi-year park improvements plan calls for additional campsites, improved shelter house areas, individual picnic sites, extensive walking trails of varying degrees of difficulty, an activity area for children, an additional road that leads into the park and the restroom facility, which will double as a welcome building. Cost guesstimates given at that time for all the improvements ranged between $2.2 million and $2.7 million, depending on the extent of work for each project.

“We knew we weren't going to do it all at once,” Prior said. “But it laid out things. So as we are making small improvements we have a big picture. If grants become available, how can we fit that in? And if we can only do a small piece each year, we can set priorities, and ultimately get it all done.”

For instance, knowing that future tent camp sites will be moved to space near the new RV sites helps with planning the RV sites' infrastructure layout.

“As we are laying water lines [for the RV camping], we are making sure that [the tent sites] are close,” Prior said, “so that we can move tent camping away from the shelter house but still give [the tent sites] access [to] water.”

Officials applied for the land and water grant in 2019. But various factors delayed the award, the biggest being the pandemic.

“When we were doing the environmental [assessments], some of the people that we needed to contact weren't readily available,” Prior said. “So that slowed things down. But now, we're pretty much on target and moving forward.”

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